Syracuse 77, Pittsburgh 61: Orange emerges in the second half

SYRACUSE, NY – Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team ended a three-game losing streak, beating the Pittsburgh Panthers by a final score of 77-61 inside the Carrier Dome. Syracuse led by just one at halftime, but the defense strengthened in the second, allowing Pittsburgh just 27 points.

Syracuse’s offensive started strong behind Jimmy Boeheim and Jesse Edwards. The two front row players scored five points each in the first media timeout and although the defense continued to lag, Syracuse held a slight 10-8 lead in the first media timeout.

As the half progressed, Pittsburgh lost track of Buddy Boehiem. A screen on the left wing gave him as open a look as he has had in the last four games – he buried it to give Syracuse a 13-10 lead. Then Buddy paid another attention and more defensiveness followed. In the next game he was passed and found Symir Torrence below for a wide open layup.

Pittsburgh held firm throughout that streak, grabbing six offensive rebounds in the first eight minutes for second chance points. But Buddy pulled off two more Quick 3s, securing the Pittsburgh bench after making his fourth and retreating to the other end to make it 25-21.

Pittsburgh started 0-5 from deep but as the half progressed he made the next four of five and eventually regained the lead at 27-25. A layup on the next play after an Edwards miss gave the Panthers a 29-25 lead. John Bol Ajak, who had only appeared in three games this season, finished with 4:08 left in the first half, replacing Benny Williams. He would play four minutes without recording a statistic – good for four trillion.

At the end of the half, a bucket of Joe Girard reduced Pittsburgh’s biggest game lead (seven) to five. Then, after suffering a foul on a 3-point attempt, Girard made it two of three to make it a one-possession game. Buddy then scored on the inside to take the lead to one and at the end of the half, Jimmy Boeheim scored a Frank Anselem miss just before the half-time buzzer to give Syracuse a lead from 35-34 at intermission.

The 14 points of Buddy punctuated the Orange. Pittsburgh shot 13-26 from ground and 5-12 from three while Syracuse shot 13-27 from ground and 5-10 from three. The Panthers had a slight advantage on the 16-13 glass.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse came out aggressive on offense after intermission to the tune of a 16-3 streak as Girard started things off with an inside score on first possession. Pittsburgh made two free throws to respond, but Jimmy Boeheim called with an inside right hook, then Girard made a pair of free throws after getting fouled to continue the run.

Then Edwards scored inside on a pass from a Boeheim and suffered a foul. After making four 3s in the first half, Buddy didn’t have much room to breathe in the second half. He put the ball on the bridge, fouled and made two free throws to give Syracuse an eight-point lead. A Jimmy bucket inside the next play pushed the lead to ten, resulting in a Jeff Capel timeout before the first media timeout.

Buddy’s fifth triple – this time from the corner – later gave Syracuse a 15-point advantage and pushed him to 21 points for the game, making it his eighth 20-point game of the season.

Edwards managed to avoid fouling issues for most of that game, not committing fouls in the first half and picking up just two fouls in the first 14 minutes of the second half. He reversed the scenario on Pittsburgh center John Hugley, as he pulled Hugley’s fourth foul on a charge at 9:22.

But later in the half with Syracuse in double digits, Edwards was called out for his third foul at 5:41. Pittsburgh put pressure all over the court afterwards and forced a turnover. Rushing to play defense, Edwards stood up to challenge a shot and although there was no contact on play, he was called up for his fourth foul at 5:26.

Jim Boehiem chose to stick with his starting cross maintaining a 67-54 lead. However, the 13-point margin was as close as Pittsburgh would get the rest of the way. Down the home stretch, Syracuse got to the free throw line and pulled it off, going 17-24 from the line in the second half. The defense as a whole also strengthened, limiting Pittsburgh to just 5-21 shots in the final 20 minutes, including 2-10 shots from outside.

Edwards fouled at 1:21. As he made his way to the bench, Syracuse fans stood up and applauded his 12 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks.

Buddy Boehiem led all scorers with 24 points on 5-8 outside shots while Jimmy Boeheim finished with 18 points and 7 rebounds. Cole Swider scored 10 points.

For the game, Syracuse shot 25-49 (51%) from the floor and 6-17 (35.3%) from three.

Following

Syracuse returns home on Saturday to welcome Florida State. This game tilts at 3 p.m. ET and airs on ESPN.